When booking a safari in Tanzania, you should do your research in order to get the best price. Majority of the guides are offering the exact same packages, but will vary in prices. For example, Tanzania Host Experience (partners with IVHQ and Tanzania Volunteer Experience) charge a ton compared to other companies. They know that they have incoming volunteers every two weeks so know they can profit a lot by marketing at the orientation.
I did a 3-day (2 night) safari that had the same inclusions for about $400 cheaper than what they would charge for 4 people. Instead of paying $970, we paid $580 per person. It was unfortunate that we weren’t in the big group with the rest of the volunteers going that weekend, but $400 is a huge difference! The price included park fees to Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater, campsite fees, camping equipment (tent, sleeping bag, mattress, pillow), a professional driver/guide, transportation in a 4-person safari jeep, cook, and all meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner – which I may add were delicious!). We contacted Aron on WhatsApp at +255 757 522 522 and setup a meeting on the Tuesday before we went. Our tour guide was Moses and you can contact him on WhatsApp at +255 764 688 005. We also met him the Friday before we went. The company is currently working on a website. However, they have been safari tour guides for about 10 years. We read good reviews of Aron online and also heard about him from volunteers from another organization in Arusha. I recommend contacting them in advance to discuss itinerary and prices and then booking after you arrive and compare other local companies.
Although I wasn’t with the large group of volunteers that went through THE, I enjoyed having a small group for this experience. It certainly had its benefits. For one, the car ride was much more spacious. We also could make more requests to the guide with a smaller group instead of trying to please 15+ people. However, if you do go in a large group, most of the vehicles will end up splitting off anyways so it will still be enjoyable.
Day 1: Arusha to Serengeti
On the first morning, we were picked up at our accommodation in Arusha and headed straight for Serengeti National Park. On the way, we stopped to pick up our cook, camping supplies, and food and then at African Galleria in Manyara for a quick bathroom and coffee break. This is a professional gallery that deals in antiques, art, Tanzanite and other gems, clothing, custom made jewelry, and additional souvenirs that you can purchase. The total drive to the Serengeti park entrance took about 7 hours.
Once we arrived, we had lunch at the park entrance while our guide got our park entrance pass. While eating lunch, you will see lots of beautiful birds and amphibians. You will also realize how many rats scurry around scavenging for food. After you are finished eating, you can take a 5-minute hike uphill to get a great view of the Serengeti plains.
The Serengeti is one of the most famous parks in Africa and is synonymous with wildlife and classic African scenery. It is Tanzania’s oldest park and a Unesco World Heritage Site. It is home to the spectacular wildebeest migration and offers top-class wildlife viewing throughout the year.
After lunch, we put the jeep roof up and departed on our first afternoon game drive! We spent several hours getting excited by each and every animal that we came across. Be warned that you will get very very sandy/dusty! I recommend bringing sunglasses, a safari hat, or anything else to shield your eyes and face from the sand.
As the sun was setting, we arrived at our campsite and set up the tents while dinner was being prepared. The dinner was phenomenal! Our cook, Kagere, made some delicious meals! Our meals included popcorn or peanuts to start, followed by soup and bread. Our main courses included meat, salad, pasta, quiche, and French fries. For dessert was a platter of fruit. The meals that I had this weekend were the best I had during the entire month I was in Tanzania. Shout out to Kagere!!
I was pretty impressed by the campsite facilities. There is one building where the chefs do the cooking and another building for visitors to eat. Table and chairs will be provided by your tour guide. There are also western toilets and shower facilities available, which I was not expecting. However, you will need to bring your own toilet paper (this goes for pretty much everywhere in Tanzania). There are also mirrors in the bathrooms.
Camping in the Serengeti is an incredible experience! After dinner, two of my friends saw a leopard not far from the bathroom facility. A guide was shining a torch on it. Be sure to take a few moments to look up at the sky and admire the starry night sky. In the middle of the night, we heard hyenas and lions. Don’t worry too much because there is always someone on patrol throughout the night.
Day 2: Serengeti to Ngorongoro
Breakfast is served at 6:30AM so that you can set out on your morning game drive right away and watch the sun rise over the Serengeti. We drove around for several more hours seeing different animals than we had on our first game drive. Anytime that you wish to stop, you can just let your guide know. If you didn’t see any big animals yet, their goal will be to find them for you. This is the morning that I got my favorite shot of a male lion walking up on a hill with a hot air balloon rising up behind him in the background. It was a magical moment!
After the morning game drive, we went back to the campsite to have lunch and load up the car with all of our camping equipment. After lunch, we had an afternoon game drive where we finally saw a couple cheetahs. Depending on what time you came into the park the day before, is the time you will have to exit the park on your second day. The pass is only valid for 24 hours.
After exiting the park, we headed to Ngorongoro. On the way, we were given an option of stopping at the Maasai Village. We passed up the opportunity because I thought we were going on an evening game drive and I wanted more time for that. If I realized that we were just going to the campsite than I would’ve wanted to stop. If you stop, be prepared to give a $10 USD donation.
Soon after the village, you may spot some zebra and giraffes close to the road. Don’t be afraid to ask your driver to stop and get out of the car to get a close-up photo with them.
My main tip that I have for this day is to use the bathroom every opportunity that you have. By the time we arrived to the second campsite, my bladder was about to burst. We arrived at Simba Campsite around 6PM. We were greeted by a dozen zebra on the campsite. Again, we set up camp as dinner was being cooked. Although the dinner is delicious, it does take several hours to prepare. While you are waiting, you can take a supposedly “hot” shower. I opted out since it was much colder at this campsite and I didn’t want to be extra cold with wet hair. Unfortunately, at this campsite, you won’t hear any animals in the middle of the night except for possibly zebras.
Day 3: Ngorongoro to Arusha
We had another early 6:30AM breakfast so that we could maximize our time in the Ngorongoro Crater. The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a protected area and a World Heritage Site in the Crater Highlands area of Tanzania. The area is named after Ngorongoro crater, a large volcanic caldera within the area. All the major safari animals occur in great numbers here. You have a decent chance of spotting black rhinos here, which is a real treat since rhinos are very difficult to spot elsewhere in Tanzania. The crater is also home to some very impressive elephant bulls with huge tusks. Lake Magadi often harbors large flocks of flamingo.
The lions and some of the other animals in the crater seem very used to people and safari jeeps. One of the lions was walking in around the jeeps and even was curiously looking under one of the jeeps. He chose to lay down in the middle of the safari jeeps rather than in the field of grass right next to him.
The weather and climate in Ngorongoro is much different than the Serengeti. It is much cooler and is cloudy/foggy up on the rim majority of the year. Once you get down into the crater, it gets warmer.
Our morning game drive lasted until lunch time. Unfortunately, we did not spot any rhinos, leaving it the only animal that we did not see on our safari. If the rhinos are not walking near the trails, then it will be difficult to see them in the day. The jeeps must stick to the trail.
After having lunch back at the campsite, we headed back to Arusha. Along the way, we made a quick pit-stop to get a view of Lake Manyara. We were back to our accommodation around 3PM.
This safari was an incredible experience! We saw so many animals. What makes the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater unique from other safaris in Africa is that the animals are very easy to spot in the plains. The national parks in Botswana or Zimbabwe, for example, had a lot of trees for the animals to hide in. The wide-open space makes the odds of you seeing the Big 5 very good.
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